It’s been a busy year for the World Poker Association (WPA), which has seen “Captain” Tom Franklin assume the role of Chairman. Poker News Daily sat down with the World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner for the latest developments, which include a health care plan designed for poker players.

Poker News Daily: Tell us about the WPA’s activities since you became Chairman.

Franklin: The WPA wants to continue to stick up for poker players and have a say in rules and regulations. We’re also trying to put things together that will benefit players. For example, during the WSOP, we had health insurance available. For being a member of the WPA, you can have better health insurance and better dental insurance.

We also heard complaints on rule interpretations so that players can have a place to make their voices heard. We’ll then take it up with whomever we need to on the tournament staff. We’re also trying to write up a rulebook that will be accepted. The only time you have a gray area in poker is when you have misinformation. If everyone gives you the right information, it’s not a gray area; it’s absolute.

PND: We’ve heard about the health insurance program. How has it been received by current and prospective WPA members?

Franklin: Anyone who is a member of the WPA can get it. They can call up, say that they’re a member of the WPA, and ask how much it costs. When we get to 20 or 30 players taking advantage of it, we can have the best pricing possible. A lot of poker players don’t have the opportunity to receive any other health insurance since they don’t have a formal job. The insurance we receive is pretty reasonable. You can get really good comprehensive insurance for $350 per month.

PND: Can you talk more about your membership drive?

Franklin: Right now, we’re sending out e-mails. At the WSOP, we had a deal that if you bought a WPA membership, you got a ticket for a raffle. We’re going to go to a couple more tournaments and have a booth. We’re also trying to get a few companies to become premium members of the WPA.

PND: What kinds of companies would make good fits for WPA memberships?

Franklin: Poker rooms, casinos, and anything to do with gaming and/or poker would be good fits. We talked to some of the websites, but we can’t work with them because of the laws.

PND: Jesse Jones did an admirable job of getting the WPA off the ground. Will there be any changes in strategy now that you’re in charge?

Franklin: The philosophy of the WPA is the same. Our biggest goal is to centralize the rules so that they’re the same in any venue. First, we’re trying to get the perfect rulebook and I think we’re close. In Mississippi, I wrote the standards for every Grand Casino in the state, including poker. When they’re absolute, they’re great rules.

The next step is to have penalties for those who break the rules. It’s just like disciplining a child. If you tell a child that you’ll break their arm, it has no effect because you won’t actually break it. If you say you’ll put them time out for 30 minutes and then do it, it has an effect. In Mississippi, we brought down all of the poker room managers to be in on the discussion. I interpreted the rules for them. We did it all together so that everyone interpreted the rules the same.

Check out the official website of the World Poker Association.

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